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Dispute Between Congress, DMK on Seat Sharing Likely to Cause Alliance Collapse

Tarique Anwar, BeyondHeadlines

New Delhi: Just a month ahead of the assembly polls in Tamil Nadu, Congress party and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) have locked horns over the sharing of seat. It seems that dispute might cause collapse of the seven-year-old alliance between the two parties because the alliance partners cannot agree on the seat sharing for the state’s 234 seats.

Sources told the BeyondHeadlines (BH) that DMK’s TR Baalu plans to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to let them know that DMK can withdraw its support to the UPA govt. But it is not clear so far that when Baalu will meet the Congress leadership. However, the BH has learnt that Home Minister P Chidambaram is flying to Chennai this evening.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Presenting Bouquet to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi (file photo)

Both parties held three rounds of discussions on seat sharing for the upcoming assembly elections, which scheduled to be held on April 13, but no positive outcome came forward. The Congress party wants to contest on more seats than it contested in the last elections and if the alliance manages to get mandate, it desires to be given government portfolios. In the last assembly election, it had contested on 48 seats.

DMK has offered the Congress party 60 seats, but the latter wants 63 seats, which according to DMK chief M Karunanidhi, is “unfair.”

Karunanidhi had said in a statement in Chennai that according to the formula, both parties agreed the Congress party would be given 51 seats. “But we offered them 60 seats. Is it right to demand 63 seats? Is it fair to expect us to okay constituencies they choose? DMK’s high-level meet on Saturday will take an appropriate decision,” he said.

Ghulam Nabi Azad, in charge of the Tamil Nadu elections, has said: “Talks are still going on. We hope that they do not break ties.”

With all the controversy that the partners have been mired in in the last few months, coupled with the traditional antiincumbency challenge, this will not be an easy election to fight. It does not help that the past few weeks have been tough on the Congress-DMK relationship with the CBI’s investigation into the 2G scam extending to some of the DMK’s senior-most leaders, including Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi. A Raja, the DMK leader who was Telecom Minister till November and was forced to resign much to the DMK’s chagrin, is now in jail.

People will use their franchise in the sate on April 13, and the counting of votes will be conducted on May 13.

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